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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Topless women cause a stir

Eagan Williamson

Pretoria - An expression of disbelief was clearly visible on the face of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang when about 15 women decided to keep abreast of things and celebrate Women's Day in Pretoria topless.

The women, who work for a cleaning and laundry business in Rosslyn that does work for, among others, state hospitals, sent their tops flying in protest against sexual harassment at their place of work and their conditions of service.

This was shortly before Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa was to deliver his address in front of about 10 000 people, most of them women, at the Union Buildings.

Leader of the group, Violet Mmut of Masakhane Laundry and Cookfreeze Services, took off her top where she was standing right in front of the stage. About 14 other women followed her example.

Security guards and the police battled for about 15 minutes to calm the women down so that the proceedings could go ahead.

Several MECs were among the special guests on the stage.

The cleaning and laundry service business apparently belongs to the department of health.

The women were also unhappy because they have been working as volunteers for the past three years but have not received permanent appointments.--



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